Two Weeks in Norway

“Are you insane?”

That was how my friend Åse (pronounced “oh-seh”) reacted when we divulged our Norwegian road trip itinerary to her. We were just over halfway through our trip when we met her for what’s arguably the best restaurant in Bergen – Åse’s kitchen table, in her waterfront apartment.

With a handsome man at her side and a very cute, very serious baby on her hip, she was just as enchanting as the last time I saw her, three years prior. She is an incredible cook, and highly skilled at pushing food on her guests, no matter how many servings they’ve already consumed. And when dinner’s over, there is dessert. And leftovers. And extra snacks for your hike the next day.

We gladly accepted.

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Åse adores Bergen through and through, similarly to the way a born-and-raised New Yorker adores New York City: simply and utterly perplexed by anyone who would choose to live elsewhere. She even has me sold on the city – and I’m not exactly the biggest fan of rainy weather.

I agreed to move there if she found me a husband. To that, she responded: “Challenge accepted.”

I’ll be waiting for the notice when she’s found him.

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The two weeks I spent road tripping through Norway were easily two of the best weeks of my life. From Oslo, we drove north and west: with our first major stops in Geiranger and the Atlantic Road. From there, we hit Trondheim, and then powered through Trondelag and Nordland to Bodø, where we collected Silje – the woman who sparked my Scandinavian obsesseion. And thus began a ladies’ weekend in Lofoten (pronounced loo-foo-ten).

Lofoten is easily the most beautiful place in the world, in my eyes. Sharp, spikey mountains rise up from cerulean blue waters, and each horizon is dotted with little red fisherman’s cottages – rorbuer, in Norwegian.

Three tough hikes, four breathalyzer tests, and one mountaintop concert later, we all found ourselves aching to stay. At a bar, we were scolded for only giving ourselves three days in Lofoten. And I was finally in a part of the world where telling someone our nationality left both Norwegians and other travelers puzzled – what the hell were two American girls doing here? Nevertheless, we stayed out drinking with a German, a Swiss, and a Scot until two in the morning, only to realize that we’d have to hit the road at 4:30. Luckily, I sobered up in time to drive.

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The second half of our trip flew by in what felt like a matter of minutes — except the hike to Trolltunga… that happened very, very slowly. But a night in Stavanger and one last night in Oslo let us appreciate Norwegian cities in all their glory: walkable streets, stylish inhabitants, and architectural blend of traditional and modern design. On our last night, Silje and Greger brought us to Pjoltergeist, a spin-off by a Michelin-star chef, boasting a creative Icelandic-Japanese fusion menu. A handsome Norwegian man cracked jokes at our table in English, and yet again, I fell a little bit more in love with Norway. I’m not quite done with that country, and I’m not quite sure I’ll ever be.

Itinerary details below.

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Itinerary:

Day 1: Fly into Oslo. Drive to our 200-year old cabin in Fossberg.

Day 2: Drive Gamle Strynfjellsvegan, a beautiful tourist route along glacial valleys. Continue to Geirangerfjord, where we lucked out with incredible weather, and kayaked to the Seven Sisters waterfall. Drive further to our waterfront airbnb in Stordal, and eat burgers at a fast food joint on a fjord.

Day 3: Detour to the Atlantic Road (worth it, if the weather is good). Continue on to Trondheim. Commence Emily-Sarah Trondheim bar crawl.

Day 4: Long, very scenic drive to Brønnøysund, where the waters are an incredible turquoise blue. Hike Torghatten, a famous rock formation with a cave that opens up to a view of the islands and the Norwegian Sea.

Day 5: Long drive to Mo I Rana, where we stayed in a haunted hotel.

Day 6: Hike to Svartisen, a rapidly melting glacier. Drive to Bodø, pick up Silje, make her teach us how to count to twenty in Norwegian over pizza and beer.

Day 7: Ferry from Bodø to Moskenes, in the Lofoten Islands. Hike Kvalvika Beach, and drive to Henningsvær, our home for the weekend.

Day 8: Attempted to hike Svolværgeita – actually hiked to Djevelporten, which translates to “The Devil’s Gate.” Immediately throw out running shoes. Go as a group to a sporting good store and purchase legit (matching) hiking boots.

Day 9: Hike Festvågtinden for a Sondre Justad concert. Lots and lots of climbing.

Day 10: Drive back to Moskenes to catch the ferry to Bodø. Fly from Bodø to Bergen. Dinner in Bergen, and drive 3 hours to Odda.

Day 11: Hike Trolltunga. PTFO.

Day 12: Drive to Stavanger. All of the exploring. All of the coffee. All of the cake.

Day 13: Drive to Kvinesdal, sleep on a farm.

Day 14: Drive to Oslo. Exploring and dinner with Silje and Greger.

Day 15: Fly out of Oslo. Commence clinical depression as we return to the US during election season.

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